Saturday, February 09, 2013

Superior Spider-Man #003 – A Review

I was all set to shatter the glass and pull out an emergency post this week as I’m really swamped with earning my PDHs for license renewal and our house is in a shambles trying to find places for numerous bookshelves and other things (like a new record player!) that we bought this week. But then I read Superior Spider-Man #003 last night and I just had to write about it again! SPOILERS Follow.

Superior Spider-Man #003
Writer:  Dan Slott
Artist:   Ryan Stegman
Color Art: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99 (including “FREE” digital copy)

Look!  Up in the sky! Is it a bird -- a plane?  No … (dramatic pause) … it’s the SPIDER-SIGNAL!  Seriously.   That cover image wasn’t just thematic.  We get to see an actual spider-signal light up the sky and it was AWESOME GREAT!

The signal sits atop the police station and waiting next to it are Commissioner Gordon Police Chief Pratchett, Renee Montoya Carlie Cooper, and the irascible Harvey Bullock J. Jonah Jameson.  Mayor Jameson smugly proclaims, “You’re witnessing the dawn of a Golden Age. Me. Running this City.  And the Wall-Crawler finally falling in line.  An agent of law and order.  Mine to command…at the literal flick of a switch.”  At that precise moment Spider-Man dutifully shows up…and promptly shuts down the beacon in a “FASH” with a special spider-tracer thingy.  Jameson is furious and demands an explanation.  Potto’s ® response is perfect: “A giant beacon in the sky, announcing to ALL my enemies where they can find me.  Only an idiot would put that into effect.  And Major J. Jonah Jameson is NO IDIOT.  Jameson is virtually speechless (or close enough anyway, which is still a tremendous accomplishment for the wall-crawler).  Potto® takes command of the situation and gives Jameson a shielded private number to use to reach him instead.

They’ve called him in to investigate the mini-vulture attacks on MJ’s nightclub and they want Carlie to work closely with him.  While Potto® adjusts his lenses to identify the Vulture’s flight signature; Ms. Cooper is pretty open about starting to question his actions, but stops just short of a direct confrontation.  Slott obviously loves this character, since she’s like the most intelligent person in Spider-Man’s world right now.  And I have to admit, I do like Carlie – I just didn’t like her intimate relationship with Peter.  Spider-Man goes off in search of the Vulture and we get a flashback of him and Adrian Toomes during the early days of the Sinister Six.  It’s an actual memory that ghost-Peter can witness firsthand.  It’s a bit of revisionist history to portray these villains as more than associates, but it was necessary for the story’s climax.

Spidey locates the Vultures lair and offers Toomes a generous amount of money to “walk away from [his] life” of crime (Peter never had the finances to accomplish such an out-of-the-box solution).  The Vulture thinks he’s joking and commands his mini-minions to “destroy him”.  During the Todd McFarlane-esque costume shredding melee, Potto® “thwaks” one of them against the wall.  He’s shocked to learn that the henchman was actually a hench-BOY.  Another memory surfaces of Captain America (2012) #1, where Steve Roger’s drunken father starts slapping him around (Are there any decent fathers in the Marvel Universe?) Otto being slapped around by his drunken father (Why do I get the feeling of déjà vu?).  More revisionist history, I know, but it really enrages Potto® that he inadvertently struck a child.  He must have forgotten about the child he endangered in ASM #90 – the one Captain Stacy sacrificed his life to save.  Now, he’s mad.  Looks like he didn’t really know good-ol’ Adrian as much as he thought (must have been just a Facebook Friend).  Toomes coldly responds, “Oh, please. I’ve always preyed on and lived off the young”.  (I chuckled at this line, because he’s like really, really old, so everyone is “young” to him.)

Spidey attacks so viciously that the Vulture quickly flees in the air.

“You were a fool to follow me, Spider.  Out here, up in the sky, we’re in MY element.  Thought you’d have learned that by now.”

“You still don’t get it, do you, Adrian?  This is NOT some old conflict you’ve fought a million times…This is something NEW!  EVERYTHING you know about me is WRONG!  He – I always went easy on you. Fighting an OLD pathetic senior citizen – with arms that have traded blows with THE HULK!”

[Spidey pounces on him and puts him in a choke hold]
(That’s just a taste of their great “battle-talk”.)

However, the Vulture is no pushover.  His ability to manipulate gravity to fly also augments his strength (historical continuity fact) and he “thoks” Potto® off his back toward the ground below.  “Dee-Dee-Dee.”  Uh-oh, that’s the sound of Spider-Man’s web-shooters running low on web-fluid and the Vulture knows this because he has “excellent” hearing.  (He must because I think that was a recent enhancement to Spider-Man’s equipment and the Vulture has never encountered it before – must be that he can hear miles and miles away.) 

In a great splash page, Adrian turns the tables and puts Spidey in a choke hold.  Potto® touches his insignia with a “tekk” and a “klik”, which jump starts the Spider-Signal to super-power levels.  His lenses also start to polarize.  Spider-Man conveniently happens to be over the police station just in time to catch the old bird is the Manfred Mann Earth Band spotlight beam. He then forcefully shoves him into the device, which Carlie also conveniently happens to be standing beside, causing Adrian to suffer severe burns and cuts.  Oops.  Potto® realizes he overdid it in front of Carlie and didn’t follow the WWPD (What Would Peter Do) mantra.  He gives her an excuse that he thinks suffices, but ghost-Peter (not so ever present this issue) understands she is now 100 percent sure that Doc Ock is in control, which could be very dangerous to her.

This is one of those rare occasions where analyzing the book too much actually caused a slight downgrade in the review.  I mean I was super pumped up about the story when I read it Thursday night.  It was exciting, contained more of the unexpected Potto® actions, plus there was some really great character interactions and dialogue.  Don’t get me wrong, I still really like the issue, but I can’t ignore the revisionist history and some of the Church-lady conveniences.

GRADE A-:  A thrilling ride, but not without a few bumps.  I’m still loving the storyline, but I fear Ms. Cooper’s days are numbered!

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